Many people discovered or rediscovered the fun of putting together jigsaw puzzles during the isolation days of the pandemic, but I’ve been enjoying jigsaw puzzle therapy for years. After a trying day or whenever I feel overwhelmed or cranky, focusing my attention on snapping pieces together to form a picture of beautiful locales or cute animals calms my nerves.
Like many puzzlers, I put together the frame first then focus on different areas based on the objects depicted in the scene. This process never fails to lure me into calm contemplation, often spiritual in nature. God is putting together the pieces of my life. I don’t have a picture on a box to see what He’s creating, but Psalm 31:19 tells me I can trust Him:
Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!
Occasionally, a puzzle piece will go missing, which causes me more frustration than it should. I mean, a lost puzzle piece in no way negatively effects the quality of my life. I even feel guilty for the stress this situation creates for me. I’ll look under both the sofa cushions and sofa, inside my dog’s mouth, and even turn my Roomba loose in my quest to retrieve what will complete the picture. Most of the time, the wayward piece turns up.
But not always. This happened about a week ago. I finished a 1000-piece puzzle only to find the sky missing a piece. What surprised me was my reaction. I saw a gaping hole in the scene as a symbol of the losses in my life, and I fell apart.
Yes, I sobbed for a full minute. Images evoking sorrow over disappointments and pain hijacked my emotions and held them hostage until I prayed, “God, I don’t want to feel this way.” The emotional storm stilled, and a peace that only my Savior can give washed through me, dissolving my sorrow. I like the way one of my favorite Bible verses characterizes the peace Jesus provides:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to You; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
Maybe you’ve experienced hijacked emotions. Mementos, holiday preparations, photographs, and even pieces of clothing (my dad’s flannel shirt), all typically sources of comfort and joy, can morph into reminders of painful losses experienced recently or even decades ago. When this happens, remember what Psalm 34:18 tells us:
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.
While my life does feel like a picture God is putting together, I know He’s not finished. New scenes are being added. Plus, unfulfilled hopes and painful disappointments and losses are not missing pieces. There are no missing pieces.
When sad memories threaten my peace of mind, instead of dwelling on the pain, I can instead fix my mind’s eye on the faces of those whose love carried me through difficult times. I can trace God’s hand in their caring support.
Also, focusing on my blessings and praising God makes troubles easier to bear. One piece of the puzzle was missing, but 999 were not.
Is that puzzle piece still missing? Yes. My life, however, is complete, with every “piece” displaying evidence of God’s love and care.